Library - In Memoriam

Remembering oral history interviewees who have passed away.

Robert Campbell began his career in the music industry working for Conn Organ in 1947, the year the company gave a unit to President Harry S. Truman. Bob later worked with Don Leslie, the inventor of the famed Leslie organ speaker.

Don Leslie, the inventor of the very successful Leslie Speaker, was pleased with the concept of the product that was a simple idea but a tricky design. As a child, Don was fascinated by the large pipe organs and how the sound traveled all around the listener.

Charlie Gorby was a true visionary for the music products industry and the founder of Gorby Music in West Virginia. As a lone store retailer, Charlie was a regular attendee at the NAMM shows beginning in the 1940s when the industry was trying to get back in swing after World War II. He spoke at a series of industry meetings along side his dear friend William Gard. Gard was the CEO for NAMM who often referred to Charlie’s forward thinking ideas in speeches and industry addresses during much of the 1950s and 60s. Mr.

William Zeswitz was taught the violin by this father, who formed the Zeswitz Music Store outside of Redding, PA. Bill became president and a true leader in the industry.

Henry Heller recalled with detail his father’s idea of moving the Aeolian Piano Company’s manufacturing plant from New York to Memphis. During the months of the move in the early 1950s, his father suffered a heart attack and died.

Jimmie D. Webb operated a small music shop in Antioch, California, which was also the headquarters for his amplifier business. The Webb Amps were widely used by electric blues and rock bands, mostly in San Francisco beginning in the early 1970s.

Alvino Rey tinkered with putting a phonograph pickup in his banjo to increase the volume in 1927. His inventive mind also led to early guitar pickups and the design of a pedal-steel guitar.

Claude Watson was a precise and revered luthier who perfected the fine art of handcrafted instrument building. He was known for his clever design and complex inlay work in country-style flat tops and a series of violins, cellos, and string basses.

Billy May was a fun loving trumpeter who arranged some of the best-loved music of the Big Band Era! His humor and musical talents provided hit recordings for Glenn Miller, Charlie Barnet and Frank Sinatra, to name but three.

Del Roper performed the xylophone for several society big bands, playing on radio with Xavier Cugat in the early 1930s. Del was later a powerful force in studio orchestras and developed a double decker xylophone, which he played on several variety TV programs in the 1950s.